Interviews - Shockey, Staup
Interviewed by Anne Failing
Mr. Shockey was employed at the silk mill from 1937 - 1940 and after his service in World War II from 1947 - 1950. Mr. Shockey worked in the spinning department (also known at other plants as twisting). He worked seven days a week on a steady night shift. Mr. Shockey was in charge of 20 machines (each had 90 bobbins). When Mr. Shockey began working at the mill in 1937, the mill was running real silk. It would take up to a week to fill one bobbin with real silk. "That was why silk was so dear because you could never hurry it up". The mill switched to rayon around 1939 because of World War II. Workers at the mill were usually given a thirty minute break during their shift. However, a worker could take as long as he or she wanted, but, at that same time, the worker was still responsible for the machines. Mr. Shockey remembered being sent downtown frequently in order to purchase pop and other items for his fellow coworkers. One incident that sticks out prominently in Mr. Shockey s memory was: one night his boss came up to him and gave him some money, instructing him to go and see the picture show. Mr. Shockey went and was paid for his two hours of fun. Mr. Shockey became a union representative at the mill. He made several trips to New York City and also to Atlantic City to negotiate labor contracts. Approximately two-thirds of the mill employees were members of the union. One time the workers went on strike, but they came back to work for less wages than what they had been paid before the strike. Mr. Shockey felt that, because other industries were unionized, the workers at the silk mill felt a need to follow the national trend and join a union. The workers at the mill would stay unionized as long as the dues were not that high (at that time dues were 75 cents). Mr. Shockey felt that the union really did not care about the workers at the silk mill, it only cared about the dues. Because of this animosity management really did not worry about the union.
The silk mill was seen as a "living" by the community of Lonaconing. To Mr. Shockey it was the best and cleanest place that he ever worked.
Interviewed by Anne Failing
When Reverend Staup was sixteen, he suffered a horrible Christmas. His family did not have enough money to buy presents. Reverend Staup vowed that this would never happen again. On the day after Christmas he marched down to the silk mill, knocked on the door, asked for a job, and got it. He decided to work at the mill because he knew it was a stable job and he also knew that he could get a job at the mill. Reverend Staup was hired to work in the spinning or twisting department of the mill. He worked everyday during his Christmas break. When school resumed he chose to continue to work at the mill and attend high school. To do this Reverend Staup would leave school early in order to get to his job by 3:00 p.m. He worked an eight hour shift (3-11) and was a full time employee. Reverend Staup was in charge of twenty machines, each of which had ninety bobbins. He had to make sure that the silk did not break, and he had to change bobbins when they became full. He was paid approximately $60 - $65 every two weeks for his services. Reverend Staup kept working at the mill until he entered the service in World War II. (continued on next page)
Photographs: Anne Failing and Robert Shockey,
Allegany High School, Oral history project
Allegany High School, Cumberland
28 cms x 22 cms
Anne Failing, Erin Degyansky, Chris Jewell, Amber Sallerson, Dan Whetzel and Mike Lewis
Allegany County (Md.), History; Lonaconing, Allegany County (Md.), History; Lonaconing Silk Mill; Silk mills, History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1907-1957